Saturday, September 8

Indian Dhal

An Indian staple that gets a bad reputation as it is usually dull and tasteless gloop. My version is well spiced and uses of three types of lentil to give colour and texture. The green lentils will hold their shape, while the red and yellow ones will cook down to thicken the dhal. Serve as a side dish to dry meat curries and use as a sauce to moisten rice.

100g channa dhal (yellow lentils)
100g red split lentils
50g green lentils
4 tbsp ghee or melted butter
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
3 fat cloves garlic, crushed
1 ½ tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1 stick of cassia bark (cinnamon)
1 dried red chilli
500ml chicken or vegetable stock
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp black mustard seeds
20 curry leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper
small handful fresh coriander leaves, chopped

Put the lentils in a sieve and wash thoroughly. In a saucepan with a lid, heat 2 tbsp of the ghee and fry the garlic, ginger and cumin for 1 min until the garlic starts to brown

Add the turmeric and the cassia bark, tip in the red and yellow lentils, add the stock and bring to the boil. Split the chilli down the middle and add to the pan, cover and simmer for 40 mins until the lentils begin to break down.  

Add the green lentils and cook for a further 20 mins until the green lentils are cooked through but intact and the red and yellow lentils have completely disintegrated. Add more water as you go if it starts getting too thick – it should remain thick-soup like.

Before serving the dhal, heat the remaining ghee or butter in a separate pan and fry the onion until deep golden brown. Add the mustard seeds and curry leaves and fry until the leaves are crispy and the mustard seeds pop like crazy – you may need to cover the pan. Add the onion mixture to the dhal and mix well seasoning to taste with the salt and pepper. Sprinkle with coriander and serve.

I once ate dhal served from a miniature bucket handed around the table which was rather cool/tasteless depending on your point of view. Maybe a bowl on the table for everyone to help themselves is a better serving option?

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